Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced that full or balance Direct Payments have been issued to 97% of farm businesses on day one of the December 2018 payment window.

This is the highest performance across all regions of the United Kingdom, with payments totalling £85 million issuing today.

DAERA’s director of area-based schemes, Dr. Jason Foy, said: “The Department is acutely aware of the importance of timely Direct Payments to farmers and making a full or balance payment to 97% of farm businesses, totalling £85 million, on day one of the December payment window is an excellent achievement.”

It is expected that payments will begin to reach farmers’ bank accounts from Thursday, December 6, with payments continuing on a daily basis throughout December.

It follows news in November that payments totalling £190 million had been made to almost 23,300 Northern Ireland farm businesses ahead of schedule.

It marked the third consecutive year that record numbers of farm businesses will have received Advance Direct Payments representing 70% of their claim value.

The payment made to most farmers this week will be the final 30%.

Online boost for Direct Payments

Officials said this year’s record achievement, which exceeds last year’s record of 94%, is a further endorsement of DAERA’s transition to online services, with 100% of Single Applications submitted online in 2018.

Direct Payments in the UK are paid in sterling except where the farmer elects for payment in euro by the deadline for submission of Single Applications.

The exchange rate for 2018 has been set at €1 = £0.89281.